A HORSE lover who thought her pony had perished in the floods was reunited with her pet after it spent five days trapped in an old well.
Nikki Douglas, 34, of England Lane, Knottingley, said she watched with “relief” as fire crews cut through the concrete wall of an old underground pumping chamber which two-year-old Chicco had fallen through.
The keen rider said she “couldn’t believe it” when she found the piebald pony peeking through a small hole in the field on Thursday morning, after fearing the worst when Chicco went missing on Saturday July 15.
She added: “When I heard that Chicco had gone, we thought that he must have been stolen or he had fallen into the river and been washed away after all the heavy rain.
“But we went out to look for him every day and we could always hear a horse whinnying so we thought he might have escaped into the nature reserve.
“I came back from a ride on Saturday and two young lads told us they had found a horse and we were never going to believe where it was.
“When I saw him it was just instant relief, I checked him over and he was fine so I called the fire crew and they came out to help us.
“They did an amazing job and I am so grateful, if they couldn’t have got him out, he would have had to be put down.”
Pontefract firefighters, an animal rescue team from Cleckheaton fire station and station manager Pete Owen, from Wakefield fire station, spent four hours using steel saws to cut Chicco out of the chamber, which measured around 6ft by 2ft.
The pony – which had cotton wool put in his ears to prevent distress – was sedated and led out at around 4pm.
Mr Owen said: “I have been in this job for 26 years and I have never seen a horse or any animal get itself into a predicament like this, I have no idea how he managed to fall through that hole.
“When I got to the scene, I was sure the animal wouldn’t survive. Looking at the hole you wouldn’t think a horse would fit through it. He must have thrashed about until he dropped down into the hole.
“Normally, when we find an animal like this, it’s badly injured and we euthanise it. But we got a vet down and who said that incredibly, the horse was fit and well and standing on all four legs. The vet said a rescue was viable, so we got more crews along – there were 11 firefighters.
“There was a big pile of soil on top of the hole so it was almost like a small hill. We decided to dig out soil from one side, which was quite a job in itself.”
Ms Douglas said Chicco – who was a “podgy” pony – had been unaffected by ordeal and was happy to be reunited with his brother Zack in the field, off Stocking Lane.
She added: “He is an adventurous little pony and we are so pleased to have him back.”